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Film that’s like fast food
A Scene from "Saw 3".
OPENING WEEKEND: $36,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $90,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

June 5th, 2006: Jeff’s (Angus Macfadyen) son passed away recently and the grieving father has never fully recovered from the tragedy. Although it was an accident, he was involved and has been unable to forgive himself. Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) is a mother and a wife in her mid-thirties, harboring dark secrets from her family. The two completely unrelated individuals have something in common: they are about to become marks in a serial killer’s deadly game. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his apprentice Amanda (Shawnee Smith) return to punish those who do not value life by torturing them with horrific ploys and lethal traps. If the victims can figure their way out, they may be able to escape with their lives.

What to Expect: Upon its release, Saw became an instant Halloween hit. The gruesome thriller about an unyielding serial killer who toys with people’s lives grossed an impressive $55 million in the U.S. theaters alone. Even more remarkable is how much profit the producers made considering the estimated $1.2 million budget. The film does look pretty slick for a project with limited resources. Since personally I only admired it in fragments, overall I do not consider myself a fan of the first flick. I’ll take David Fincher’s similarly themed Seven over Saw any day. Within a year and just in time for another Halloween, rabid fans of the first one had their sequel. It clearly satiated quite a few, making $87 million domestically after an immense $32 million opening weekend. Like most sequels, especially rushed ones, it delivered the goods with rigid precision by sticking to a broad formula without improving or adding to it. Basically, it featured an assortment of people to be killed off like in any horror film, but it lacked the complete story of the first film as well as some of its more impressive moments. Nevertheless, it was enough to ensure a Saw franchise, with the third installment currently filming for a third consecutive Halloween weekend release.

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Darren Lynn Bousman, who directed the second film, returns to helm Saw III. Since Donnie Wahlberg actually expressed interest in directing this one, I guess the series might be better off with Bousman. Original creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell return as well. Whannell has written the screenplay for the third consecutive time and Wan has helped out with the story after observing the last production from the sidelines as one of the executive producers. Reportedly, Whannell churned out the script in less than a week after Wan, also the original film’s director, had laid out the fundamental idea for Saw III. Hopefully he has thought of something more innovative than the concept of a second sequel itself.

As long as Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith return to reprise their roles as John Kramer (aka Jigsaw) and his apprentice Amanda, respectively, all should be well among Saw fans. Much to his chagrin, Donnie Wahlberg failed to get promoted to director so he will once again play Jigsaw’s pursuer, detective Eric Matthews. For the third film in a row, Dina Meyer will play Kerry, another officer caught up in Jigsaw’s games. Supposedly, for the roles of Jeff and Lynn, the producers were seeking name actors. I’m not sure that Angus Macfadyen (Braveheart, Titus, Equilibrium) and Bahar Soomekh (Crash, Mission: Impossible III) qualify under the definition of “name actors” so I’m a little puzzled about their selection. I have nothing against the two. In fact, I consider both to be finer actors than any of the regulars in the film, but neither one is a household name. Finally, there’s also a rumor that Master P (remember him) has a cameo in the movie. That’s good news if you are a fan, but it is also good news if you are not because he is bound to be one of the first to get killed off.

Of course, the minions of followers have not been able to stop speculating on the possible traps Jigsaw will set this time around. Old characters like Adam or Dr. Gordon have suddenly emerged in discussions and potential plot revelations are also being hypothesized. For example, the Saw III tagline “Like Father, Like Daughter” may point to the Jigsaw Amanda relationship. I’ll leave that type of stuff for the superfans to debate. However, the filmmakers have admitted that Saw III may bring the trilogy to some sort of a conclusion. The series is likely to continue, but this entry may provide closure to the storylines that have developed so far.

When speaking about Saw III, Bousman has had an extremely positive outlook on what the movie will have to offer. He’s claimed that this one will be for the “Saw buffs” and that many of the new, morbid scenes will put Saw II to shame, making it look like a children’s feature in comparison. According to the filmmakers, the ideas remain true to the roots and should please the core fans while also adding fresh and terrifying twists that would even make Jigsaw proud. That kind of speech is about as stimulating and reassuring as an athlete saying, “We’re just going to take it one game at a time.” Most likely, the truth is that Saw III will stick to the same structure and will try to surpass the previous two films with excessively outrageous violence rather than with genuinely solid and original ideas. If a formula works, especially in Hollywood, you just don’t tinker around with it too much. Additionally, I fail to see how the filmmakers can possibly stretch their imagination in such a short time span. The legendary Stanley Kubrick took four to five years in between films and he still agonized over his work. I realize there are many examples of terrific films being produced quickly, but rarely does that work in a franchise that follows the same storylines. Novel ideas need time. Saw III seems like a project made primarily to meet the Halloween deadline for the third year in a row. It just started filming a couple of weeks ago and is scheduled to continue for only a few more. Then there will be only three months left for post-production when principal photography is finished. Good luck.

In Conclusion: I think horror film fans will probably get more enjoyment out of a brand new film than the third part in this series. Saw III will probably cater to the basic franchise needs of giving the fans more of what they want or what they think they want. Fast food chains like McDonald’s are also known as franchises. People go to McDonald’s because they can get food cheap, fast, and precisely the way they expect it, with few surprises. Like a fast food chain, the Saw series is cheap (don’t have to think too much), fast (every Halloween), and just the way you’d expect it to be (with “more blood”). Next stop – Saw X: Jigsaw vs. Jason.

Update (6/20/06): Donnie Wahlberg is no longer part of the cast.

Similar Titles: Saw II, Final Destination 3, Freddy vs. Jason
October 27th, 2006 (wide)
January 23rd, 2007 (DVD)

Lions Gate Films

Darren Lynn Bousman

Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Dina Meyer, Bahar Soomekh, Angus MacFadyen, Lyriq Bent

Total: 198 vote(s).

Horror, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated R for strong grisly violence and gore, sequences of terror and torture, nudity and language.

107 min






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